ABL's finest to showcase talent in All-Star Game

ABL's finest to showcase talent in All-Star Game

ABL's finest to showcase talent in All-Star Game

The third annual Australian Baseball League All-Star Game will pit Australia's finest against the top imported players from around the world on Wednesday at Melbourne Ballpark, home of the Melbourne Aces.

Though a truly international event, the contest will clearly bear the stamp of Major League Baseball. Sixteen Major League organizations will be represented, and the Toronto Blue Jays lead the pack with three representatives. The Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners will each showcase two prospects apiece.

Team Australia

Twenty-three of the 25 players on Australia's roster were either part of or are currently part of a Major League organization. Three of the 25 are former Major Leaguers.

The club's pitching is highlighted by 18-year-old Minnesota Twins prospect Lewis Thorpe. Signed in the summer of 2012, Thorpe spent the 2013 season in the Gulf Coast League, where he struck out 64 in 44 innings, held opponents to a .203 batting average and went 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA. In his first ABL campaign, Thorpe has been sensational for the Melbourne Aces, going 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA through four starts.

Veteran hurler Andrew Russell, another Melbourne native, will be coming out of the bullpen fresh off his best professional season to date. The 29-year-old sidearmer went 6-6 with a 2.95 ERA in 56 appearances split between the Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett affiliates of the Braves.

Ryan Searle, a recent addition to the ABL, has made an immediate impact for his hometown Brisbane Bandits, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his first two starts while striking out 15 in 13 innings. The Cubs prospect has been as high as Triple-A Iowa and is coming off a season with Class A Advanced Daytona.

John Hussey, another starter on a roll lately, has won three straight for the Melbourne Aces, bringing his record to 3-3 while lowering his ERA to 3.86. Hussey is a part of the Padres' system.

The Aussies will look to a core of former Major Leaguers to anchor the offense, with Brad Harman, Justin Huber and Luke Hughes combining to bring a solid veteran presence. Harman, a World Series champion with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, is having the strongest season of the three. The 28-year-old shortstop is hitting .288 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in 19 games.

Huber and Hughes have each appeared in just under 100 Major League games, with Hughes homering in his first Major League at-bat and Huber hitting his first career home run off Randy Johnson. Huber's second (and only other) MLB home run came off Cliff Lee.

Young prospects Ryan Battaglia (21), Logan Wade (22) and Darryl George (20) will represent some of the up-and-coming talent Australia has to offer. Battaglia, a catcher in the Indians' system, is currently tied for the ABL lead with five home runs, and 11 of his 14 hits have gone for extra bases. George, a Rays prospect, is coming off an All-Star season in the New York-Penn League as a member of the Hudson Valley Renegades.

The World All-Stars

This season's World All-Stars squad features players from five countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Of the 25 players on the roster, 14 are currently affiliated with an MLB club and three have spent time in the Major Leagues.

Former Major Leaguer Mike Ekstrom will get the start, as the 29-year-old has put up simply stunning numbers through his first six starts in the ABL. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 0.20 ERA and has allowed just one run on 19 hits in 44 1/3 innings. Ekstrom leads the ABL with 50 strikeouts, and he has walked just nine.

Former New York Mets reliever Dae-Sung Koo will be representing Korea out of the bullpen, and Fu-Te Ni, who made 58 appearances for the Detroit Tigers from 2009-10, will be representing Taiwan.

Texas Rangers prospect Joe Burns will see action in a more familiar relief role, though the left-hander has excelled in a transition to a starting role this season with Melbourne. Having made 51 Minor League appearances out of the bullpen since being drafted by the Rangers in 2012, Burns has gone 3-1 with a 3.66 ERA as a starter for the Aces this season in the ABL.

The Seattle Mariners will have two of their young arms on display, as starter David Holman and Japanese reliever Min-Sih Chen have both put up All-Star-caliber first halves. Holman, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, checks into the All-Star break with a 2-3 record and a 3.00 ERA. Chen, a native of Taiwan, currently sports a 1.80 ERA out of the Adelaide Bite bullpen. The 24-year-old has struck out 12 in 10 1/3 innings of work.

The offense for the World squad will be dominated by Blue Jays and Rockies prospects -- who will account for five of the nine starters.

Ryan Casteel has been able to pick up right where he left off following a strong season for the Class A Advanced Modesto Nuts, hitting .299 with five home runs and 15 RBIs through 21 games for Melbourne. Fellow Rockies prospect Joey Wong is hitting .279 for the Perth Heat on the heels of his first full season at the Triple-A level.

Jack Murphy, Jon Berti and Canadian Michael Crouse comprise the trio of Blue Jays farmhands -- each having a solid season with defending champion Canberra Cavalry. Crouse comes into the break with a .328 average, Murphy is batting .318 with 14 RBIs and Berti leads the ABL with 12 stolen bases.

Rounding out the World roster are Jared Schlehuber (.284/four homers/16 RBIs) of the Royals, Joey Rickard (.325/three homers/12 RBIs, five steals) of the Rays, Tucker Nathans (.322/one homer/11 RBIs, seven steals) of the Orioles, Keon Broxton (.276/two homers/nine RBIs, five steals) of the D-backs and Joe Sclafani (.259/one homer/seven RBIs, four steals) of the Astros.

Wednesday's first pitch in Melbourne is scheduled for 3:30 a.m. ET, and the game can be heard live worldwide on ABC Grandstand digital.

Craig Durham is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.